Three-Watch Collection Under $5,000: ZQ’s Picks

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We’re back with the our latest installment of our popular Three-Watch Collection Under $5,000 series. We’ve already seen Ilya’s, Mark’s, Hung’s, Sean’s, and Christoph’s picks. Today, ZQ–worn&wound’s resident aficionado of Japanese watches–breaks down his three choices.

A quick refresher on the parameters before we get started. We chose $5,000 as the cap for the simple reason that $5,000 is generally regarded as a point of entry into luxury. So rather than drop all that coin on a single watch, we thought it’d be interesting to see how our team plays around with that number. Furthermore, the choices aren’t limited to specific categories of watches. Our contributors can choose watches they’d like based on their needs and personal preferences. Finally, for the sake of consistency, all watches currently being produced have to be valued at their MSRP. Vintage or recently retired models should be based on the average market rate.

Without further ado, let’s get to it.


To me, two of the most useful functions on a watch are a chronograph and a GMT, and if I really had to choose I’d definitely include both of these complications within my three choices. For the third, I’d go with a simple time-only (with date being optional) piece for the rare occasion that calls for it.

Credor Signo GCBZ 995 – ~$1,800

If I were to say, “think high-end Japanese watch craft,” most watch lovers would automatically think of Grand Seiko. But there’s more out there beyond that, and Seiko tends to keep some of the best stuff for Japan. This is where the Japanese-only ranges like Credor and Galante come in. For one of my picks, I’m going with the GCBZ 995, a solely Credor-branded timepiece powered by a 8L36 GMT movement. (FYI: the GCBZ 997 is the exact same watch, but with dual Seiko and Credor branding.) Th 8L36 is basically the same as the 9S56, a first generation Grand Seiko GMT movement, but lacking the finishing and regulation of the 9S movement. However, the 8L is no slouch either, with a factory adjusted accuracy of +15/-10 seconds a day and some light decoration. Unlike other movements in the 8L family, the GMT 8L caliber was only used in these two particular Credor models (GCBZ 995/7), which means that these two watches are rather unique.As you may have noted, a distinguishing feature of this Credor is the amazing dial work–exquisite in its design, yet subtle enough for the watch to be used daily. There is also a chronograph variant of this model with similar dial work.

The 24-hour markers are to be read in conjunction with the skeletonized GMT hand. Overall, these elements together give the watch a distinctive look, with a high level of finishing that wouldn’t look out of place in a Roger Dubuis catalog. This watch was discontinued in 2015 but can be found secondhand in Japan and the usual Japanese auction sites at a great price, especially for a piece with this level of detail and craft.

The chronograph variants (GCBK 979/81) are still available here and are powered by the 6S chronograph movement family, which are a direct relative of the Grand Seiko 9S movements.

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Guinand Chronograph Series 40 – EUR 1,390/~$1,500

For my next choice, I decided to go with a chronograph from the niche German watchmaker, Guinand.  As many longtime worn&wound readers know, Guinand was managed by Helmut Sinn for close to a decade in the late ‘90s and early 2000s after he left his eponymous brand. Fun fact: the relationship between the two companies goes way back, with Guinand operating as one of Sinn’s main suppliers from 1960 through the mid-1990s.

Today, Mr. Sinn is no longer with the company, but Guinand still runs with much of that classic Sinn ethos: minimal marketing, no middle man, and as much value for the money as possible.

This brings me to my choice of a chronograph from the brand’s famed series 40, which is an extremely close relative of the Sinn 103 chronograph. It’s a beautiful utilitarian piece, yet it is one that is not devoid of options. When buying the watch, you can choose from a number of different details: e.g. a matte or electroplated dial; the crown on the left or on the right side of the case; and a polished, bead-blasted, or PVD-coated case finish.Each watch is anti-magnetic and shock resistant to the specifications demanded by DIN standards 8309 and 8308, respectively.  Furthermore, the watch is water resistant to 200 meters, which is always a welcome addition to a pilot’s watch.

This model is equipped with a decorated Valjoux 7750, complete with blued screws and perlage. A sapphire crystal sits on both the front and back of the case, showing off the caliber. You can also pay extra for a chronometer grade movement, which isn’t an option usually available from like-minded competitors.

For a look at Guinand’s history, click here.

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Sewills “FERREIRA” PRS-39 – GBP 980/~ $1,300

Given that I’m only left with about $1,500, you might imagine I’d be forced to cut corners in terms of design or movement choices, but this is not so. To round out my trio with a dress watch, I now turn to another less known online retailer of extremely well-priced and well-engineered watches–Timefactors from Great Britain–and one of my favorite watches from the company, the Sewills “Ferreira” PRS-39.

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As with all of Eddie’s (the owner of Timefactors) offerings, the case components were manufactured specifically for the watch, and no stock parts were used. The only exception being the Unites 6498 caliber, an old-school hand-cranker that’s well used in the micro-brand world. Here, however, it has been extensively modified with a screwed Glucydur balance and Nivarox hairspring, a swan-neck regulator, a 3/4 top plate with Geneva stripes, anglage, and blued screws. Given the vintage vibes exhibited by the PRS 39, a hand cranker just feels more satisfying than yet another automatic ETA movement. The one concession granted to modern tastes is a display case back which allows one to admire the pleasing aesthetics of the modifications.

Another detail that I really like about this watch is the unique handset. Rather than using an ordinary set of sword or baton hands, Eddie opted for a more unusual combination of blued, skeletonized hours and minutes hands. Contrasted against the bone-white backdrop of the dial, the blued hands make time reading very easy on the eyes indeed, and they’re definitely a talking point among watch-nerd friends. When else will watch hands actually be a talking point?To read more about this watch, click here.


You will have noted that I took special pains to introduce models and brands that are hardly mainstream, but that are well worth your time and effort to know better. To conclude, my three choices are a dressy and rare GMT watch from Seiko’s Credor range; a utilitarian, 7750-driven chronograph from niche German watch maker, Guinand; and a vintage-themed dress watch powered by a reliable and extensively modified Unitas caliber from Timefactors. It goes to show that there is a lot out there if you’re willing to look past the more common names.

 

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ZQ’s a die-hard Seiko lover, an obsession first sparked by the purchase of a Seiko Orange Monster, the original 7S classic. ZQ has yet to find his way out of the Seiko rabbit hole, dabbling in both vintage and modern, but his love extends to watches of all kinds. This isn’t ZQ’s first foray into the writing about watches, and he’s excited to bring his bank of knowledge to worn&wound. ZQ currently resides in Singapore with his family.
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